Fishing in Public

by "Tackle Box" Billy Kelley

Banned from Renys

Hey folks! We’ve got a lot of what we’ll call indicators. You know, rising sea temps, the longevity of our daylight, and kind of just a general feeling in the air that it’s almost time, baby! Got your tackle ready yet? It’s time to dust off the poles and sharpen the old hooks.

So let’s get down to this month’s column. Two things, and the first is (drum roll please), da da: Renys. Do you realize that for the first time in I-don’t-know-how-many years I don’t have to journey all the way to the Mall to buy a pair of socks? I just don’t understand what took a store like this so long to get here. You know, when I told a girl about the opening of Renys, she’s like, “Oh my God, I can finally buy a bra!” Kinda weird we waited for a store so long, ain’t it?

So now we’ve filled a niche, and boy, you know I had to be there opening day. I tell you — big mistake. It was nutso.

Now, Renys’ people were good — polite and courteous, really. But I was almost ashamed to say I was a customer. It was embarrassing. About the only thing comparable to the Renys opening I’ve ever seen was a video clip on Animal Planet. During the dry hunger season of the Amazon, this guy threw a chicken into a pond of the deadly piranha fish. Man, they had that digested and totally disappeared in no time at all!

Maybe we’ve been without a downtown store like this for too long. Maybe it was the sales inducements. I don’t know, but I can’t remember seeing people act like the animals they were on that day for a long time — maybe never.

Now, why am I writing about this? This is about fishing, after all. Well, I had to check out the fishing department. I was just hoping I could get to it, being in fear for my life, praying I wouldn’t get cremated by a cart pushed by some elderly female shopping fanatic. What is it with these people? (Sorry, ladies, but it was mostly the females what “shivered me timbers,” as we say.)

Well, you ain’t gonna believe this. I just actually visited Renys again for what us writers call a “follow up,” and got kicked out for life. What the fuck! I was just asking some questions — oddly enough, from the same security guys I’d interviewed previously, on opening day. Jesus Christ, here I am just checking the store out (being polite also), and I got 86’d. I guess I asked the wrong questions. Perhaps they were hunting for an excuse to jump down my throat. I don’t know.

Well, let me get off those nut-jobs, OK? Change the subject completely.

Once, many years ago, I had the pleasure to take a trip to Florida and I ended up hitchhiking back. It was a truly gratifying experience. I got good rides, met nice folks, and had a generally good time. This got me into what I call the hitchhiking mood, and boy did I love it.

For years and years I hitched all the fuck over the place — all the lower 48 states at least once, if not more. I been to California four times, Texas four times, Florida seven times — I mean, you name it. Mexico again and again. Canada.  It’s like I couldn’t stop. Even been cut up in a robbery in Santa Barbara. Had vultures circle me in the desert once (talk about scary!).

I met some really, truly great folks and had some truly great times. Mountain goat sightings in Idaho. Skinny-dipping in Austin, Texas. Christ, Hollywood! Vegas! Times Square! Daytona! What a life. Course, there were rough times as well, but overall I wouldn’t have traded the experience for the world.

What does hitchhiking have to do with fishing? Well, hold still and I’ll connect the dots.

I was watching my fave TV station, Animal Planet, and man, there’s this show about these killer locusts over in Africa that are just decimating the crops and everything else in sight, just cremating the entire landscape. And I just got to thinking: Jesus, I’m so fortunate to be up here in God’s little acre, the state of Maine, protected from plagues, locusts and such atrocities. Yeah, good ol’ Maine, far from the scaries.

But hold my horses. Are we really protected from all these dangers? Fuck no!

You know, when I was young, there weren’t such things here as bedbugs. Oh, I guess they was around, but not here. Good heavens no! Never even seen one. Times have changed. I’ve even seen an ad for bedbug eradication in the newspaper.

And we now have possums. They never used to live here. And ticks. Well, there was a few here and there maybe, but certainly not like the existing population. And believe it or not, I’ve actually seen some fire ants down by the highway.

What’s up with this? Well, they all managed to hitchhike here. They didn’t do it the nice friendly way I did it. They sort of, say, snuck on board. And I guess with the global warming thing it was a boon to the parasitic species.

It’s the ocean’s hitchers that we’re concerned about here, and boy, oh boy, there’s plenty. You know, there’s actually a parasitic worm that starts out living in waterfront snails and other such crustaceans, so it gets eaten up by coastal waterfowl, which in turn gets passed on to small fishes. Then the worm goes into business. It attacks the brain, making the fish act goofy, like jumping around and such, which makes it very attractive to coastal waterfowl, and the cycle begins all over again.

But that’s one of the relatively harmless bugs. Some of the other oceanic hitchers aren’t. Red tide are hitchhiking plankton. Look what that does. And there’s plenty more to boot! Killer parasites. I mean, deadly. Milfoil comes to mind. Wash your boat! We must take all conceivable steps to stop any hitchers we can.

Now, obviously some we can’t stop. Maybe you could convince the young’uns to go into biochemistry or whatever and learn how to take steps to squash these rotten fuckers. Something’s gotta be done at all levels. You know, when the Romans used to sack a castle or town or whatever, the first thing they did was pour a bunch of wine into the water supply so’s to kill any bad junk the folks would spike the water with. Well, I do it with PBRs. Alcohol kills germs like bleach. See, I do my part.

So lastly, back to Renys for a second. My first talk with security guards at the new store was on a friendly basis, and I did manage to get some info out of them while we were still pals. They’re not actually Renys workers. They subcontract their security services. On opening day, it only took ’em one hour to nab their first shoplifter! So I guess they’re pretty efficient.

I think maybe too efficient, though. I mean, it’s misplaced. I was hoping to be the very first customer! I couldn’t make it that early because of a previous engagement, but I’m telling ya, I was fucking-A gung-ho for the store. I didn’t even let it bug me that there’s only 53 inches of linear aisle space for fishing equipment.

Actually, a kid could get his fishing plans started there. They got some tackle outfits — while not top of the line, it’s plenty adequate for youngsters to be able to get going fine. And I get the picture. It’s not a sporting good store. It’s — I guess you’d say a multi-functional store with hopefully a little something for all to enjoy. For the true sportsman, though, I’m gonna stick with Wal-Mart based on price, convenience and selection.

But hey, not to take away from Renys, as they do fill a valuable niche in this city. However, their security — well, I don’t know about how carried away they can possibly get.